When the weather gets hot, most people start thinking about getting into shape. But that doesn’t always mean hitting the gym more often and cutting sugar out of your diet. Besides being ready to put on your bikini and strut on the sand, you’ll want to make sure your money is in good shape for the summer, too. Here’s how to give your budget a kick-start toward summer fitness.
#1 – Trim the fat. Are you spending money on things that don’t really add anything good to your life? Things like memberships you don’t use, fresh vegetables that end up rotting in the crisper, and books you never read are just a few things that can be dropped from your budget. Consider too that you might be overpaying on interest if you have any credit card or other type of debt. Transferring your debt to a zero percent credit card is a good way to tighten your financial belt without even feeling it.
#2 – Give your credit card a workout. Seriously. If you have a rewards credit card, go ahead and use it for as many purchases as possible. This way you’ll earn more points, cash back, or whatever other type of benefits it offers. If you bulk up your credit card rewards account, your summer travel budget will go much further. Things like discounts on fuel, free airline upgrades, and free hotel stays are all yours for the taking if you have the right rewards card. Now is the time to find a great one, if you don’t already have one in your wallet.
#3 – Stock up on healthy investments. Take a look at your investment portfolio, if you have one. Is it looking a little thin, or is it filled with junky investments? This is a great time to reevaluate any investments you have, and think about adding some more. Investing your money is a smart move and will pay off in the long run.
#4 – Write down what you spend. Just like you might write down everything you eat when you’re on a diet, writing down everything you spend is a good way to get a handle on where your money is going. Use an app like Mint, a good old Excel spreadsheet, or take advantage of account management features on your credit card’s web site that sort your purchases into categories. This tells you exactly what you’re spending and where. Once you’ve done this for a month, look over everything and think about whether your money is really going where you want it to.
#5 – Learn to swim. If you’re drowning in debt, this is the perfect time to learn to stay afloat. Transfer balances, make payment plans, take a better paying job—just do what you have to do to keep on swimming, until the water level starts to get lower.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be a chore. And it’s much more fun than cutting doughnuts and beer out of your diet.